The mother of a Pakistani celebrity murdered in a so-called ‘honour’ killing said her son strangled his sister after being taunted by his friends over her behaviour.
The death earlier this month of starlet Qandeel Baloch, who shot to fame for her provocative selfies and videos in the conservative Muslim country, shone a spotlight on such killings and re-ignited calls for legislative action to curb the crime.
Speaking to AFP from her home in the village of Shah Sadar Din, Baloch’s mother Anwar Wai wept as she recalled the shocking death at the hands of brother Muhammad Wasim.
“He killed my daughter after being taunted by his friends. They would infuriate him and tell him she is bringing you dishonour,” she said, surrounded by her husband as well as an adult son and daughter.
The desperately poor family, who live in a three-room house with mud for flooring, said they depended on Baloch financially and did not know how they would cope without her. Baloch supported around a dozen relatives.
“She was an amazing daughter. I have no words that do her justice, and she took care of us much more than our sons including financially,” she said, adding the family were being put up in a house that Baloch (real name Fauzia Azeem) had in Multan.
“She would phone us four or five times a day. If she wasn’t able to call one day, she would tell us ‘I’m sorry, I was working.'”
Pakistan’s law minister last week announced that bills aimed at tackling “honour killings” and boosting rape convictions would soon be voted on by parliament, after mounting pressure to tackle a pattern of crime that claims around 1,000 lives a year.
The perpetrators of so-called honour killings — in which the victim, normally a woman, is killed by a relative — often walk free because they can seek forgiveness for the crime from another family member.
Some of Baloch’s more notorious acts included offering to perform a striptease for the Pakistani cricket team, and donning a plunging scarlet dress on Valentine’s Day.
She also posed for selfies with a high-profile mullah in an incident that saw him swiftly rebuked by the country’s religious affairs ministry.
Initially dismissed as a Kim Kardashian-like figure, she was seen by some as empowered in a country where women have fought for their rights for decades.